Saturday, February 24, 2007

Follow what money?

4LAKids: Sunday, Feb 15, 2007
In This Issue:
ON THE MONEY - Legislative Analyst sounds budget warning
OFFICIALS OF CHARTER SCHOOL, LA UNIFIED MISUSED STATE FUNDS, SUIT SAYS: Former teacher accuses officials of improperly using state construction funds
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
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It’s always about the money or lack thereof.

The Governor promised public education a bright new wonderful tomorrow of increased funding last year. Money for arts education. Money for after school programs. Money to bring back programs cut earlier. Money to pay back money previously “borrowed”. Except the money isn’t really there, the economy isn’t really back and the Legislative Analyst (see: “On the Money”) says we really can’t afford the funding guaranteed to public education under Prop 98.

One of things we maybe can’t afford is proposed contract with the teachers union; a contact that – despite its claims, doesn’t really cut class size – it simply returns it to the levels of 2002. Take a look at the class sizes promised (see: Key Elements of Tentaive Agreement) – and then compare them to the class sizes in – oh, let’s say Madison, WI:

• Grades K to 5 – 13.41
• Grades 6 to 8 – 21.3 (academic subjects only)
• Grades 9 to 12 – 23.6 (academic subjects only)

• Madison spends $11,702 per student, Wisconsin $9,228; LAUSD $8,658, California $7,748 (US Census ’03-04)
• Madison has a graduation rate of 94% - undoubtedly calculated differently than California’s …because we don’t know what our graduation rate is!

The Madison schools website says: “Since the inception of SAGE (Wisconsin’s class size reduction program in K-3 to 15 in socio-economically challenged schools) the achievement gap between white students and African-American students on the state's Third Grade Reading Test has been virtually eliminated.” Nothing succeeds like success.

The Mayor and UTLA are spending money big time on the school board races (see: Mayor, Union Pour Funds into LAUSD Board Race +) — 4LAKids supports the candidates UTLA supports — but good grief, where does it end? And for that matter ….where does it begin?

And one more ugly little question about the money – but it needs asking. Johnathan Williams is undoubtedly the most qualified challenger in the school board races – but if he can raise $590,500 for his candidacy, shouldn’t he be reaching into his ‘surprisingly deep pockets’ to repay the construction loan on Accelerated School – the school he is co-principal and co-founder of? The legality of that loan is being questioned (“Officials of Charter School, L.A. Unified Misused State Funds, Suit Says”) — but no one questions that the loan currently in default. If Williams, already a State Board of Education member with an apparent conflict of interest, becomes an LAUSD boardmember – how aggressively will he work to recover the money owed LAUSD? Even if he recuses himself from the issue he places his colleagues into the conflicted position of voting for or against his interest. — smf

ON THE MONEY - Legislative Analyst sounds budget warning
Editorial from The Sacramento Bee

Saturday, February 24, 2007 - If you want to understand California's current budget troubles, then fire up your Internet connection, click to Google and search for the phrase "Google executives and capital gains."

Such a search will reveal that 14 of Google's top executives and directors sold $4.4 billion worth of stock in 2005. Because they acquired their shares at a low cost, these Google kingpins likely paid the California treasury about $450 million in capital gains taxes in 2006, according to an analysis by Thompson Financial.

Those windfall revenues, combined with other tax revenues that were higher than expected, allowed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers to skate through the last fiscal year without many tough budget decisions, such as cutting school spending or raising taxes. It's a different period now. According to Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill, the state will take in about $2 billion less revenue than expected this year and next.

The declining tax revenue, combined with overly optimistic assumptions by Schwarzenegger, could leave the state with about $3 billion less to spend in 2007-'08 than the governor projected, Hill said in a report released Wednesday.

The legislative analyst advised that lawmakers and the governor start cutting spending now, but it doesn't appear that anyone will quickly follow her advice. A Schwarzenegger spokesman says the administration's assumptions are sound, and it will wait until May to adjust projections. Apparently, the governor hopes that, in terms of tax revenues, April showers will bring May flowers.

We think Hill's note of urgency (sounded in her typically subtle Elizabethan manner) should be taken more seriously, along with her proposed solution for closing the potential budget gap.

To cut spending, Hill advises that lawmakers suspend optional debt payments that Schwarzenegger is seeking next year. That would save about $1.6 billion.

She also recommends reducing spending on public schools by about $300 million this year and using another $309 million in other funds to pay for school bus services. Hill makes a convincing case that lawmakers can make these cuts and shifts without hurting existing school programs, which would still get an increase in funding.

Savings of the sort Hill proposes would allow lawmakers to enact a budget that is less punitive to college students and welfare recipients than what Schwarzenegger has proposed.

Schwarzenegger wants to increase University of California tuition by 7 percent, and increase California State University tuition by 10 percent. Hill recommends a smaller increase so students are not funding a higher proportion of the UC and CSU budgets than they did in prior years.

Hill also offered an alternative to the governor's plan to end payments to children whose parents don't meet the requirements of the state's welfare-to-work program. She rightly recommends that the state send case workers to help parents meet the requirements, and only cut payments to children as a last resort.

A tough budget year? Not the worst we've seen, but it is still early. April will tell us whether the climate for state tax revenues will push up May flowers, or weeds.

▲ OK… 4LAKids doesn’t agree with Hill or the SacBee on the cuts to public education – mostly because those cuts are to repayments of money previously borrowed. The education of children of California is not a piggy bank, certainly not one to be stuffed with IOU’s!


►RAISE COULD THWART REFORM: Brewer's plans face funding test

by Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer, LA Daily News

Feb 23, 2007 — When Los Angeles' powerful teachers union struck a deal last week for a 6 percent raise, it dealt a major blow to the authority of L.A. Unified's new superintendent, casting doubt on his ability to fulfill his promised reforms, local education leaders say.

Just three months after taking the helm as superintendent, retired Navy Adm. David Brewer III finds himself forced to cut $200 million from his budget to pay for the raises - money needed to fulfill his own visions of reform that include reducing the dropout rate, getting more kids into college and curbing school violence.

Brewer's situation is similar to that of his predecessor, Roy Romer, whose plans were thwarted when he had to find money to fund an 11.5 percent average salary increase.

That deal, in which some teachers got more and some got less, was struck shortly after Romer was hired in 2000.

"You can look at it two ways," said charter schools executive Caprice Young, who served on the school board during Romer's tenure.

"One is that cutting $200 million out of that operating budget requires such a deep change in the way that LAUSD does business that it gives (Brewer) an opportunity to make major reforms and major changes. Unfortunately, it's much easier to do that when you have some money and a cushion," she said.

"The other way to look at it is: He comes in and, instead of building, has to tear down."

Brewer said his staff has already identified some $100 million to be eliminated from the budget that takes effect July 1 but refused to offer specifics.

He also said he plans to hire a consultant to conduct a performance audit and recommend ways to reduce bureaucracy and make the district more efficient.

And he insisted that he - not the teachers union - is in control of the district and that he will not let the $200 million in budget cuts derail his own plans to improve student achievement.

"What you really want to do is transform this district in its existing financial construct," he said. "The district is in control of this, and not the union."

A.J. Duffy, president of the 48,000-member UTLA, said the contract agreement will give Brewer impetus to streamline the bureaucracy. He suggested that Brewer start by eliminating the eight mini-districts serving the far-flung district.

"If he cuts $200 million of fat, which is bureaucratic nonsense rather than programs, then he and I are going to be very, very collaborative and we'll be able to accomplish a lot together as partners," Duffy said.

The contract is for three years, but the district and the UTLA agreed on only the first year's raise. The two remaining years will be negotiated after the March 6 school board election, when four of the seven seats could change hands.


The UTLA's second- and third-year salary demands will depend on how much state funding is available, Duffy said, and whether the union believes there's fat in the budget.

Observers say the upcoming elections, Romer's retirement last year and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's effort to seize control of the district contributed to the UTLA being able to secure such a generous first-year raise.

"It's probably the best time for the union to be in negotiations: when they have an untested, very green superintendent who doesn't have his people, agenda and policy in place, and a school board reeling because of the attacks of last year and so concerned about getting the right mix and right majority (after the election)," said Jaime Regalado, director of the Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles.

Sources close to the negotiations say the board - particularly President Marlene Canter - felt pressure to reach a contract before the election, before a scheduled strike-authorization vote, and before Villaraigosa could take advantage of labor strife to step in as a mediator.


But Canter emphatically denied that she felt unduly pressured and said the board simply wanted to stay focused on teaching and learning.

"I wanted to be able to resolve issues and move on to other issues. I think it was a good deal, it was a fair deal," she said. "This was really a success for everyone, including the district, to resolve this effectively and efficiently."

The contract, which still must be formally approved by the board and UTLA members, bumps the average teacher salary from $60,162 to $63,772 the first year, retroactive to July.

Providing full health benefits for teachers and retirees, the deal will cost taxpayers $300 million this year.

The district also will phase in smaller class sizes at specific lower-performing schools, which will cost about $343 million over three years.

School board member David Tokofsky also sees similarities between Brewer's quandary and the one Romer faced.

"By leaving a $200 million hole over the next two years, the superintendent has to concentrate as much on finding that revenue or cuts as he does on laying out his vision for the next five years," Tokofsky said.

"That can be horribly distracting and time-consuming and to the detriment of improved student learning."

Although Brewer had worked with unions during his 30-year naval career, he was ill-prepared for the political nuances of L.A.'s education system and the clout of UTLA, education leaders say.

"He's a well-meaning guy who came into a situation and walked into something that was possibly more complex than he had anticipated," Duffy said.

Regalado conceded that Brewer might have political difficulties initially but said the experience could serve him well in the long run.

"He's not experienced in running a school district, he's not experienced in the kind of politics that drives urban politics and urban school districts, and he was brought into a situation with a civil war," Regalado said.

"But it's a plus for Brewer to get something accomplished like this, even if it leaves him with some bags empty, having to find the money and having to come back to negotiate salaries once again."

Brewer's challenge, Regalado said, will be to "carve out his own territory" in a district facing a challenge by Villaraigosa, the growing popularity of charter schools and potential political upheaval if a new school board majority is seated.

"It's going to be difficult because of the stature of the other players," Regalado said. "I'm not sure he can't overcome it. We don't know enough about this person yet."


from UTLA/ interpretation is that of UTLA, a link to the full text follows.

• 6% increase, on the salary schedule, for 2006-7, retroactive to July 1, 2006.
• Most differentials receive the raise.
• Salaries subject to reopener negotiations in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009
• Differential for Library Media Teachers to be increased to $500 per semester.

• Reduction by two students in all grade 4-12 classes as follows: grades 4-5-6 starting
2007-2008, grades 7-8-9 starting 2008-2009; grades 10-11-12 starting 2009-2010; Special Education by the end of the 2008-2009 school year.
• District commits $70 million of EIA money for class size reduction in School Wide Program schools starting in 2007-2008.
• Establishes class size “flexible caps” for academic classes as follows: 35 students for grades 4-5; 41 students for grades 6-8, lowered to 40 starting in the 2009-2010 school year; and 42 students for grades 9-12, lowered to 41 starting in 2009-2010 school year.
• Establishes process for greater teacher and UTLA input into developing master schedules and for utilizing options when caps are exceeded. Administrator must provide written explanation for any decision rendered upon teacher request.
• A Joint Class Size Task Force established to monitor class size reduction and make recommendations, including district training on implementation. Specifically targets P.E. class size reduction as top priority for task force.

• Provides for a direct appeal to the Superintendent, UTLA President and a mutually agreed to third person if an SBM waiver is denied.
• This group's decision whether to allow or deny the waiver is final and binding.

• All members have right to mediation before transfer takes effect if UTLA determines transfer was related to protected union activity.
• For all other reasons, all members have right to mediation before transfer takes effect if jointly agreed by UTLA and District.

• Establishes a Joint UTLA/District Committee to identify items appropriate for negotiation during the life of this Agreement.
• Items not negotiated as part of this Agreement can be referred to the Joint Committee.
• The Superintendent and the UTLA President each select three (3) members of the Joint Committee who, starting 30 days after this Agreement becomes effective, will meet at least every other month.
• The Joint Committee has the power to reach tentative agreements to amend this Agreement subject to UTLA ratification and District approval.

• At the request of the substitute, the site administrator must hold a meeting to discuss the matter prior to issuing a notice of inadequate service.
• The substitute may be accompanied at the meeting by a UTLA representative or a person of the substitute's choice.

• Requires that teachers be notified as soon as feasible of a change in their tentative assignment.
• If notification is made late (within five (5) days before the first student instructional day),
teachers shall receive up to the equivalent of two days in paid status as preparation time for the
assignment. (The two days must be used by the end of the second week of student instruction).
• Permanent teachers request assignment before site administrators can assign non-permanent

• Amends the District's safety bulletin to require that site administrators provide keys to all school staff, including itinerant staff and substitutes for access to restrooms and assigned workstations.
• Refers other issues raised during negotiations e.g., gate keys, classroom communication systems to the Living Contract Joint Committee.

• Measures the 12-month period during which family medical leave can be taken from the individual employee's first date of leave instead of the beginning of the fiscal year. This change does not change in any way, the amount of family leave to which you are entitled or the reasons for which the leave can be taken.

SMALL LEARNING COMMUNITIES: Provides Lead Teachers with an additional conference period to perform duties.

COUNSELORS: Establishes special task force with specific deadline to give recommendations to Superintendent and the Board on granting due process to counselors and other issues.

The Full Text of the Tentative Agreement

►MAYOR, UNION POUR FUNDS INTO LAUSD BOARD RACE: Campaign finance records show more than $1.8 million spent in bid to elect candidates.

by Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer, Daily Breeze/Daily News

Saturday, February 24, 2007 — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles Unified teachers union have spent more than $1.8 million during the past month battling for control of the district's board, according to campaign finance reports filed Friday.

In the mayor's campaign to replace two union-backed incumbents with his allies in next month's election, Villaraigosa's Partnership for Better Schools has contributed about $909,000 since late January, filings show.

During the same period, United Teachers Los Angeles kept pace by spending $900,000 to support its two candidates, incumbents Jon Lauritzen and Marguerite LaMotte.

The hefty contributions have set the stage for a crushing final eight days before the March 6 election.

Both sides are expected to pour even more funds into the matchups as Villaraigosa seeks district influence while his legislative effort to take partial control languishes in court. And his committee still has $900,000 on hand to spend on the three candidates the mayor supports -- Tamar Galatzan, Yolie Flores Aguilar and Richard Vladovic -- with last-minute television ads, mailers and automated phone calls.

If Villaraigosa wins either the San Fernando Valley seat or the South Los Angeles seat, it is widely believed he will have majority sway on the board.

Still, because of his close ties to the union, the battle for board seats is likely to be restrained.

While contributions for candidates backed by the mayor and the union generally mirrored expectations, candidate Johnathan Williams showed surprisingly deep pockets in his bid to upset LaMotte in South Los Angeles' District 1. Williams, who is not backed by either the mayor or the union, collected $590,500 from individuals and groups nationwide who support public school reform.

Williams, a leader in the charter school community, started the first independent charter school in Los Angeles, Accelerated Charter School. In 2001, it was named the best elementary school in the nation by Time magazine.

Campaign finance disclosures also revealed in one of the most hotly contested races -- Lauritzen's Valley seat -- that challenger Galatzan received about $877,500 from Jan. 21 to Feb. 23. About $780,000 of Galatzan's contributions came from the mayor's Partnership for Better Schools.

Meanwhile, $450,000 of incumbent Lauritzen's $485,450 in fundraising came from the UTLA.

In the second most heated race, District 1 incumbent LaMotte, another union-backed candidate, received $524,100 -- $450,000 from UTLA.

In the Harbor Area-based District 7, Vladovic has received about $142,250, including $100,000 from the mayor's committee.

Villaraigosa-backed Yolie Flores Aguilar, who's running for the District 5 seat being vacated by David Tokofsky, received $185,000 in contributions in the period, $95,000 from the mayor's committee.

►TWO SCHOOL BOARD RACES TOP $1 MILLION: Huge infusions of cash from a committee controlled by the mayor and the teachers union drive up the price tag for the District 1 and 3 seats.

By Howard Blume, LATimes Staff Writer

February 24, 2007 - The political dynamic of the mayor versus the teachers union — two supposed allies in school reform — is playing out in the financial statements of school board candidates, with the price tag on two races sailing past the $1-million mark.

Both money-heavy contests pit an incumbent backed by United Teachers Los Angeles and opposed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The mayor hopes to emerge with a board majority that will back his schools agenda. The union, meanwhile, wants to reward incumbents who delivered a 6% raise last month, with salary talks upcoming again.

The most direct confrontation has unfolded in District 3, in the west San Fernando Valley, where incumbent Jon Lauritzen, UTLA's candidate, faces city prosecutor Tamar Galatzan — backed by the mayor, and underfunded teacher Louis Pugliese.

As of Friday filings, Galatzan had received $807,701 from the Partnership for Better Schools, the Villaraigosa-controlled campaign committee, bringing her total to $915,127.

Lauritzen is second in fundraising, with $509,023, but his supporters point to a potential army of teacher foot soldiers. About $450,000 has come from UTLA, with much of the rest from other unions.

Four years ago, Lauritzen had less money than incumbent Caprice Young when he toppled her. The funding gap will probably be worse for Lauritzen this time. His campaign consultant, John Shallman, says he is planning a $500,000 campaign, about $200,000 less than last time.

The mayor's committee has reported $1.6 million in donations, with Galatzan as the biggest beneficiary.

The mayor's war chest relies heavily on large donations from major civic players and interests. They include $500,000 from Univision Chairman A. Jerrold Perenchio (who also gave $500,000 last year to another committee controlled by Villaraigosa); $100,000 from the home healthcare workers union; $100,000 from producer Stephen Bing and $25,000 from the Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns Staples Center and is building the L.A. Live sports and entertainment complex.

And what happens without the support of either the teachers union or the mayor? Ask Pugliese. The answer would be $140 in contributions, a $6,000 personal loan and about $700 of donated postage. Pugliese has taken advantage of equal time offered at campaign forums, but they're frequently sparsely attended.

District 1, which ranges westward from South Los Angeles, is the scene of the other big-money contest, pitting incumbent Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte against local charter school operator Johnathan Williams.

Money from the mayor's committee is being kept out of District 1, with interested donors instructed by the mayor's allies to give directly to Williams instead.

Sources close to Villaraigosa say the mayor is worried that his committee's bankroll could backfire in neighborhoods with black voters distrustful of his school intervention efforts.

LaMotte will use her money to portray Williams' supporters as outsiders, which, by her campaign's definition, would include former Mayor Richard Riordan, who has donated $80,000 to Williams. Such characterizations helped LaMotte, a retired principal, defeat incumbent Genethia Hudley Hayes four years ago.

Williams' contributor list is salted heavily with charter school supporters. Leading the way is Reed Hastings, the Netflix founder who once headed the state Board of Education, who donated $100,000. Donations of $100,000 apiece came from Gregory B. Penner and Christy R. Walton, of Bentonville, Ark., both members of the family that owns the Wal-Mart chain.

Among the smaller contributors are Los Angeles charter school operators Roger Lowenstein and Steve Barr.

The $1,000 donors include former board member Young, who heads the California Charter Schools Assn.

She defines Williams' support as coming from the local and national "education reform community," while casting LaMotte as propped up almost entirely by a single vested interest: the teachers union.

UTLA has kicked in $450,000 of LaMotte's $543,639, with other unions filling in much of the rest, although she also has a roster of $100 and $200 contributions from community members and district employees.

Spending in District 1 is expected to surpass that of four years ago.

The two other races — which lack a teachers union pick — will be considerably less costly.

Villaraigosa intends to spend just enough to elect his choices. In District 5, which snakes north, east and south of downtown, he supports Yolie Flores Aguilar, chief executive of the county Children's Planning Council. She has raised $234,898, including $116,765 from the mayor's committee.

Her opponent, teacher and neighborhood council leader Bennett Kayser, has $23,428.

In the Watts-to-Harbor-area District 7, the mayor went with retired senior school district administrator Richard Vladovic. His total of $154,353 includes $106,131 from the mayor. His opponents are retired principal Neal Kleiner ($22,920) and union organizer Jesus Escandon ($3,548).

OFFICIALS OF CHARTER SCHOOL, LA UNIFIED MISUSED STATE FUNDS, SUIT SAYS: Former teacher accuses officials of improperly using state construction funds

By Joel Rubin and Evelyn Larrubia, LA Times Staff Writers

February 24, 2007 - Seven years ago, the Los Angeles Unified School District joined with a charter school to build a sparkling new campus in South Los Angeles. The deal, using public funds and private donations, was hailed as an ideal partnership.

But that transaction is coming under scrutiny. Several individuals from the Accelerated School and the school district were named in a lawsuit this week alleging improper use of state school construction funds.

Among those named in the suit is Accelerated's co-director, Johnathan Williams, who is running for a seat on the district's seven-member school board.

Neither Williams nor his campaign staff had seen the lawsuit, but campaign consultant Ace Smith called the litigation "a shameless political attempt to try to denigrate the fantastic work that's been done by the Accelerated School in South Los Angeles."

Williams could not be reached for comment. But Kevin Sved, who directs and founded the school with Williams, defended the deal to build the school. He had not read the lawsuit, but said lawyers for the school and district had carefully vetted the project at the time.

"The result," Sved said, is a school "providing free, quality education in an underserved section of Los Angeles."

The lawsuit was filed by Dennis Dockstader in Los Angeles Superior Court last summer but kept under seal until late last week. Dockstader, a whistleblower and former teacher, has made at least two similar, unsuccessful allegations against the school district, according to Michelle Meghrouni, a senior district lawyer.

Dockstader brushed aside allegations that the suit was politically motivated, noting that it was originally filed months before Williams declared his intention to seek office.

Dockstader would not further discuss the suit — or the other false claims actions he has filed previously.

False-claim suits seek the return of government funds from a person or entity that improperly used or obtained them. If successful, Dockstader and his legal team would be entitled to 25% to 50% of the recouped money, said attorney Mark Allen Kleiman, a false-claims specialist not involved in this case.

Such suits are filed under seal until the attorney general decides whether to dismiss, participate in or stand aside during the litigation. In this case, state prosecutors chose to let the suit proceed without their active involvement.

The lawsuit alleges that the land and construction contract violated numerous state rules and bidding requirements and seeks the return of all state money applied to the project, estimated in court documents at more than $12.5 million. Dockstader charges in the suit that, among other things, the school project was designed to bilk the state out of $2.8 million it paid the district to help defray the costs of the campus land.

According to the lawsuit and Los Angeles Unified documents, the district and Accelerated pursued and then abandoned the idea of Accelerated donating the land to the district. (The land had originally been given to Accelerated by the previous owner.) The district instead bought the nearly four-acre site at South Main Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The move qualified the district for the additional state funds, which were used to help build the modern campus. The suit argues that the state was defrauded of money for which the school district and Accelerated had no legitimate claim.

Williams was not named in the original complaint, which targeted only L.A. Unified, the Accelerated School and the Cal State Los Angeles Foundation, which held the title to Accelerated's land. But a recent state Supreme Court ruling barred litigation against government agencies, so attorneys working with Dockstader amended the list of defendants this week to drop L.A. Unified and add specific individuals, including Williams, his partner Sved and Jim McConnell, the former head of construction for L.A. Unified. McConnell declined to comment on the lawsuit.

When the construction collaboration was conceived, L.A. Unified desperately needed to relieve overcrowding and was eligible for millions in state school construction funds. Accelerated, for its part, had a ready plan for a new, larger campus, but was short on capital.

Ultimately, the project cost more than $50 million, said Eric Johnson, the president of Accelerated's board of trustees. He estimated that about $21 million came from state and district funds and $18.6 million from Accelerated's own fundraising. In addition, L.A. Unified lent $9.9 million to Accelerated, and the nearly $6 million paid for the land deal was also used to build the new campus.

Johnson said it was clear practically from the start that the best idea was to sell the district the land, then pump that money back into the project.

"Someone may have suggested that the land be donated, but clearly that's not the smart way to do it," he said.

The state will only pay so much for construction costs, based on how many pupils the school will serve, he explained. But it will pay for half of the district's land acquisition costs on top of that.

"Part of their job is to get as much bond money as possible," Johnson said Friday. "I think the school district would have been clearly remiss to structure it any other way."

Separate from the lawsuit, Accelerated has fallen behind on repaying the loan from the district. (It made its first payment in more than a year in December.) With more than $9 million still unpaid and the loan due in summer 2009, school district officials have said they are negotiating an extension for the balance of Accelerated's debt. They also emphasized that the terms of the loan do not impose any penalties on Accelerated for late payments.

In previous interviews, Williams has characterized attention to the loan issue as politically motivated.

Williams, 40, is running a well-funded campaign to unseat Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, the one-term incumbent who represents District 1 of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The school he co-founded was once named Time magazine's elementary school of the year. Accelerated's state-of-the-art campus opened formally in April 2005 and serves about 1,200 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12.

Charter schools are publicly financed but, in exchange for boosting student achievement, are free from many of the restrictions imposed on traditional schools.

State officials had no immediate response on whether they were fully notified about the land transaction or what difference that could have made.

"The Office of Public School Construction takes the allegations very seriously," said Rob Cook, a deputy director for the California Department of General Services, which supervises the construction agency. He said agency staff "will take a close look at this matter."

►CITY HALL, L.A. UNIFIED CLASH AGAIN: Deputy Mayor Cortines says a report tabulating dropouts is late and calls it an example of the Los Angeles school district's 'damn bureaucracy.'

by Howard Blume, LA Times Staff Writer

February 22, 2007 — Ongoing tensions between City Hall and the Los Angeles Unified School District flared in public Wednesday during an exchange between the mayor's top education advisor and the school board president. Deputy Mayor Ramon C. Cortines first accused the district of withholding a report on dropouts, then later, he and board President Marlene Canter sparred over the mayor's refusal to meet with her.

The back-and-forth, during an education forum at the downtown City Club, underscored the chill between Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles Board of Education. The frosty climate has even affected contact between Villaraigosa and new schools Supt. David L. Brewer — who have characterized themselves as blood brothers on school reform. Their vaunted plan for weekly meetings has been dropped indefinitely.

Cortines brought up the issue of dropouts as an example of the district's inexcusably cumbersome bureaucracy.

"The district and the mayor's office agreed on a process and a protocol" for tabulating dropouts. Cortines said, adding that the first report was due at the end of January.

"The report is ready," Cortines insisted, but has been withheld, "because of the damn bureaucracy." There are "four layers of bureaucracy … so you still don't have it."

The mayor has cited high numbers of dropouts as a primary justification for trying to assert authority over district decisions, and the two sides have sparred over the percentage of dropouts. The most recent official district dropout rate, based on the state formula, is 24.1%. Some researchers estimate the actual number at more than 50%.

Neither Brewer nor Canter, who were both on the panel, responded at the time. In a later interview, they said that the plan has been to release the report sometime in February. Brewer added that his own concerns slowed things down — he was worried that some students might be counted more than once.

That issue is now resolved, he added, while declining to say when this month the report would be released.

The report in question will tabulate, on a monthly basis, which students are truant and for how long.

"It's going to be helpful to us in helping students stay in school," Canter said.

At the forum, Canter and Cortines clashed directly, if politely, over the lack of contact between senior officials.

"We would like to meet with the mayor and Mr. Cortines any minute of the day. We don't need legislation for partnerships," said Canter, referring to a Villaraigosa-backed law that would give the mayor some authority over schools pending an ongoing court challenge.

Canter commented that the mayor refused to include her, as school board president, in his proposed meetings with Brewer.

"Honestly, this is an adult issue that shouldn't affect kids," Canter said. "But in order for us to partner together we have to be respectful of the role that we have." The superintendent is "hired by a board. We work together as a team."

Cortines responded that the mayor should be able to meet alone with Brewer: "It is important, I think, that the mayor and superintendent meet and I think ultimately the board president would be included…. I'm not saying that the mayor's office doesn't have some blame also. What I am saying is that we have got to come together."


by Peter Schrag, Sacramento Bee columnist

Feb. 23, 2007 - QUESTION: Who are the five biggest California home buyers these days?

ANSWER: Garcia, Hernandez, Rodriguez, Lopez and Martinez.

No, this isn't a joke or a fantasy. According to Dowell Myers, a demographer at the University of Southern California, those were the five most common names of California home buyers in 2005, the most recent year for which he has data. In the nation as a whole, four of the 10 most common home buyers' names are Latino. Five years ago it was two out of 10.

The story, of course, is evidence for a much larger point: Immigrants don't just "pile up'' as unskilled, undereducated burdens on the economy like so many Peter Pans who never grow up or change. They learn English, get jobs and buy homes.

And as boomers retire in the coming generation, those immigrants and their children represent the core of California's labor force and, ultimately, much of the nation's as well.

We therefore better see their education not as a cost but as an investment in the economy and as support for the boomers in their retirement -- helping to pay for pensions, Social Security and Medicare -- and giving them the wherewithal to buy the homes that for many boomers represent their largest chunk of savings.

There are about 200 seniors for every 1,000 working-age residents in California. By 2040, there'll be more than 350 for every 1,000. The numbers are even starker for the nation as a whole.

But Myers, in his important new book "Immigrants and Boomers: Forging a New Social Contract for the Future of America,'' due out next month from the Russell Sage Foundation, makes a set of other arguments as well.

• Mexico's fertility rate has declined from 6.8 births per woman in 1970 to 2.4 births in 2000, which is just above the replacement level, making it likely that in another decade or two, there'll be many fewer young adults to migrate.

• As immigrants, legal and illegal, have gone to other parts of the country, California's share, while still the nation's largest, has declined sharply.

• Meanwhile, the percentage of foreign-born residents both in California and in the nation, while still rising, is rising much less steeply than it did between 1970 and 2000 or had been forecast a few years ago. Some 27 percent of today's California residents are immigrants, which should taper off at about 30 percent in 2030.

• As the percentage of foreign-born residents who've been here 10 years or more increases, many more of them will become integrated into the middle-class economy and join the ranks of the Garcias and Hernandezes who are buying homes.

All this, of course, speaks directly to the national immigration debate, which, as Myers notes, is still stuck in a largely static view of immigrants.

"When immigration is a new event'' (as it is for much of the nation), he writes, "all the immigrants are new.''

That shocked Californians in the early 1990s, when voters passed Proposition 187, seeking to deny education and other public services to illegal aliens. It shocks people in Georgia, North Carolina and Iowa now.

And while illegal immigration, and sometimes any immigration, still angers some Californians, at least for now there's been a change in attitude. A survey last year by the Public Policy Institute of California found 58 percent of Californians regarded immigrants as an asset to the economy, while 35 percent thought they were more of a burden on public services.

The problem, as Myers notes, is that recent immigrants, though a declining percentage of the whole, "overshadow and mask the upward advancement of previous arrivals. Citizens have simply extrapolated past conditions into the future, ignoring the fact that settled immigrants grow older, assimilate and make economic gains.''

Many of the arguments about contemporary immigration echo arguments about Poles, Italians, Greeks and Hungarians of a century ago. They were of inferior stock, would never be educable, were prone to crime and disease and would contaminate the Anglo-Saxon stock that made the nation great.

There are major differences between then and now. There were more jobs for unskilled labor; there was no public social welfare system or any assumption that all young people had to finish high school and, in most cases, be educated for at least two years beyond. Because of geographical distance, ties to the old country were harder to maintain.

But what today we call Anglos includes all those Poles and Italians, some of whose descendants are now voicing the same complaints that other Americans made about their immigrant great-grandparents a century ago.

There are few unskilled jobs providing decent wages as in the first half of the past century. But the projections for the coming decades indicate a labor shortage both in this country and other developed nations that can be met only by immigrants from the underdeveloped world. And that, as Myers says, demands a grand bargain between generations and ethnicities, especially about education, like none that this country has ever made before.

by Susan Ohanian, Education Malcontent |

And Congress spake, "We are your masters who brought you out of the wilderness of teacher professionalism and into the house of direct instruction."

I. We are the State, which has brought students out of the wilderness of teacher-led classrooms and into the kingdom of test prep. Thou shalt have no other guidance before thee, and then it will follow as night follows day that No Child is Left Behind.

II. Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven images, not any likeness of anything that contradicts the Standards and their tests. For the State is a jealous god, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them who don't obey.

III. Thou shalt not take the name of the Standardistos, thy gods, in vain. For the State nor the testing company will not hold him guiltless that takes their name in vain.

IV. Remember the Standards and keep them holy. The State blessed the tests and hallowed them. Thy adequate yearly progress scores shall comfort thee.

V. Honor thy Standards, that thy days as teachers may be long upon the land of direct instruction which the State gives you.

VI. Thou shalt not kill Standardistos.

VII. Thou shalt not have intercourse with any other than thy lawful Standards and test prep materials.

VIII. Thou shalt not steal time away from the Standards and preparation for the State's tests for frivolous matters.

IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against the Standards.

X. Thou shalt not covet lesson plans of bygone times. Nor shalt thou covet libraries, books, recess, art, music, nor anything that went before.

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
• Monday Feb 26, 2007
Please join us to celebrate the completion of your new classroom building!
Ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m.
Commonwealth Elementary School
215 S. Commonwealth Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

• Tuesday Feb 27, 2007
SOUTH REGION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL #11: Site Selection Kick-Off Meeting
6:00 p.m.
Loren Miller Elementary School
830 W. 77th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90044

• Tuesday Feb 27, 2007
VALLEY REGION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL #14: Site Selection Kick-Off Meeting
6:30 p.m.
Columbus Elementary School
6700 Columbus Ave.
Van Nuys, CA 91405

• Wednesday Feb 28, 2007
SOUTH REGION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL #12: Site Selection Kick-Off Meeting
6:00 p.m.
Miramonte Elementary School
1400 E. 68th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90001

• Wednesday Feb 28, 2007
Please join us at this public hearing to discuss the findings of the Preliminary Environmental Assessment (PEA). Immediately following the public hearing, we will hold the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) public meeting.
6:30 p.m.
Sutter Middle School - Auditorium
7330 Winnetka Ave.
Canoga Park, CA 91306
*Dates and times subject to change.

• Thursday Mar 1, 2007
CENTRAL REGION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL #22: Site Selection Kick-Off Meeting
7:00 p.m.
The CenterPointe Club
6200 Playa Vista Drive
Playa Vista, CA 90094

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213.633.7493
Phone: 213.633.7616


What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6387 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6385 • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6383

...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at • 213.978.0600
• Call or e-mail Governor Schwarzenegger: 213-897-0322 e-mail:
• Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
• Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
• Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
• Register.
• Vote.

Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?

Scott Folsom is a parent and parent leader in LAUSD. He is President of Los Angeles 10th District PTSA and represents PTA as Vice-chair the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. He serves on various school district advisory and policy committees and is a PTA officer and/or governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is also the elected Youth & Education boardmember on the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council.
• In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
• FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. 4LAKids makes such material available in an effort to advance understanding of education issues vital to parents, teachers, students and community members in a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


4LAKids: Sunday. February 18, 2007
In This Issue:
A RADICAL CHANGE FOR TWO UNION MILITANTS: Former dissidents, now powerful insiders, shaped the tough tactics that got teachers more than just a raise.
LAUSD'S PAYROLL FOULED UP: Questions raised on choice of new system, contractor
GENDER MATTERS: Educators battle over single-sex schools.
What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
4LAKids Anthology: All the Past Issues, solved, resolved and unsolved!
4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
THE GOOD NEWS THIS WEEK was that a teacher’s strike had been averted in LAUSD; labor asked for 9%, management offered 3% - and a compromise was struck (the pun is Freudian) at 6%! If that pay raise was the only part of the deal we could all say “Doh!” and have another Duff’s with our donut.

But also included in the contract is a commitment to class size reduction of “one or two students per classroom”. That’s not enough, but it’s big – and if some math teacher taught me correctly I think that means that LAUSD must place – by hiring or transferring non-teaching-staff – about 3 to 6% additional teachers in a like number of additional classrooms. That’s great …providing those new teachers are qualified, the classrooms and money to pay the teachers are there and those transfers aren’t the very folks previously moved away from the classroom in the best interest of kids!

WHILE WE’RE ON ABOUT DONUTS: A tray of these, sandwiches and industrial size pots o’ coffee are on hand in the lobby of LAUSD HQ to accommodate the huge number of folks with “paycheck problems’. For details on cause read LAUSD'S Payroll Fouled Up [below], but the effect is that LAUSD is hiring and paying substitute teachers so classroom teachers can come to Beaudry and spend the day waiting to speak to someone about getting paid.

(Note: Substitute teachers are wonderful people …but classroom teachers belong in their classrooms, paid.)

There is been a lot of downplaying-of-the problem and blame-gaming and going on. At first it was just a “glitch” – but when I asked a reliable source (a guy who delivers school mail throughout the district) I quickly found it it was huge. First the press was told it was the office clerks at the schools who were to blame, followed quickly with an official apology to that group. The president of the principal’s union even offered a mea culpa – because he shoulda/coulda seen this coming!

I’m going to state the obvious in my loud playground voice in my sometime role as an appointed watchdog over LAUSD finances: ORGANIZATIONS DO NOT IMPLEMENT NEW FINANCIAL SOFTWARE PROGRAMS – ESPECIALLY IN PAYROLL – WITHOUT HAVING PARALLEL BACK UPS IN PLACE. Murphy’s Law and the Law of Unintended Consequences ARE THE LAW! To those who argue that LAUSD’s payroll system was already bad let me point out that WORSE IS WORSE THAN BAD and CHAOS IS THE STATE OF NATURE AT REST! One can follow the misdirected media frenzy in blaming the software company or finding a conspiracy in the awarding of the contract – but someone made the conscious decision to not have a backup payroll process in place …and that person and anyone who agreed with their decision should be sitting in a folding chair in the Beaudry lobby and waiting for their paycheck. Forever.

ONE WOULD THINK THAT A WORLD CLASS CITY IN THE 21st CENTURY would pay its teachers on time and avoid pumping its sewage into the sea twice in one week. One would think that the mayor’s hand-picked Commission for Youth and their Families would show up for the meeting to hear the mayor’s team pitch his ‘Schoolhouse Framework: A revolutionary plan for school reform’. One would think.

ON A CELEBRATORY NOTE: THIS WEEKEND MARKS THE 110TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDING OF PTA. In the first few years PTA worked to establish universal free kindergarten, pass child labor laws, championed an separate juvenile justices system and worked to guarantee parent rights within public education. In the intervening years PTA created the school nurse program, assured that polio was eliminated in this country by insisting upon a nationwide vaccination program in all schools, advocated for the school lunch program, after school programs, seat belt and car seat legislation. We have worked tirelessly to see that education and children’s health and welfare is the nation’s, states’ and local governments’ first policy and budget priority — all begun when two thousand mothers gathered in Washington DC on Feb. 17-19, 1897 – during ‘a storm of the century’ blizzard! And what has PTA done lately? Governor Schwarzenegger hailed PTA’s leadership and success last year in insisting on funding for arts education in the California curriculum and state budget.

Join us; we’re not finished! It isn’t just about punch and a cookie with the principal …but it almost always starts there! There’s a million of us in California and six million nationwide. Margaret Mead said to never underestimate the power of a small dedicated group to change the world, “…they are the only ones who ever have!” PTA is that small dedicated group at your school, speaking for our kids and every child with one strong voice.

WE COULD ALL USE ANOTHER NEW BEGINNING, and in the Chinese New Year this extended weekend we have one! Let’s take Monday off and hit the ground running on Tuesday. Gung hei fat choi and Happy Birthday PTA, George and Abe!

Onward -smf

LAUSD apology to clerks/AALA President’s comments

A RADICAL CHANGE FOR TWO UNION MILITANTS: Former dissidents, now powerful insiders, shaped the tough tactics that got teachers more than just a raise.
By Joe Mathews, Times Staff Writer

February 15, 2007 - At United Teachers Los Angeles, veteran classroom instructors Joel Jordan and Joshua Pechthalt were longtime outsiders, considered a bit too radical for a union long known for its progressive politics.

Now, as leaders at the nation's second-largest teachers union, they are applying their ideas in ways that could reshape Southern California's politics and schools.

On Tuesday came the largest practical demonstration of the union's new approach to date: a three-year union contract.

The agreement was sealed after months of unusually confrontational rhetoric and aggressive public protests staged by the union's leaders. And the deal's details — particularly its mandate for class size reduction and new job protections for union activists — reflect the long-standing emphasis by Pechthalt, Jordan and their allies on broadening UTLA's advocacy beyond salary and benefits.

"This contract is a representation of our vision, in a concentrated and limited form," Jordan said after a news conference to announce the agreement.

In the months ahead, union leaders say, they intend to use a similar approach in two other big battles: the March 6 elections, which could reshape the Los Angeles school board, and the implementation of a state law that, if it survives court challenges, could grant Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and perhaps the union itself greater influence over the district.

UTLA's more aggressive stance is personified by A.J. Duffy, the dapper, occasionally bombastic union president who communicates with the membership and tussles with the press. But according to people both inside and outside UTLA, the strategy has been shaped by the little-known Jordan and Pechthalt, self-described "union militants" who now hold key leadership posts.

Jordan, a top staffer, and Pechthalt, a vice president, have long ties to activist politics and to Villaraigosa, a former UTLA staffer who once represented Pechthalt in a grievance against the Los Angeles Unified School District. Along with Duffy and two other allies, Pechthalt and Jordan were unexpectedly swept into power in elections two years ago by a membership frustrated at stalled contract talks.

Their dissident status had been cemented over two decades. They staged demonstrations without the approval of union leadership. They supported bilingual education when California voters didn't, opposed standardized testing as it became popular and questioned whether homework was necessary. They published a newsletter criticizing the labor movement and their own union, particularly its focus on electing school board members to secure power and good contracts.

Instead, they said, UTLA should reinvent itself as the base for a social movement that would engage in aggressive organizing of parents and communities, confront even friendly politicians and use militant tactics rarely employed by staid public employee unions.

"UTLA has never realized its full potential, which is to organize at schools, with teachers, parents and the community," Pechthalt said. "We need to create a broader movement for public education."

But this approach has caused alarm among some in the union and in political circles. Rank-and-file teachers and even other UTLA officers suggest that in their zeal to change the organization, the new union leaders have neglected some of the nuts and bolts of unionism.

"UTLA is a labor union and has the structure and mechanisms and funding and politics of a labor union," said Warren Fletcher, a union chairman at City of Angels School downtown, who has been both ally and critic of Pechthalt and Jordan. "I'm concerned that we're approaching things from the perspective of some sort of grand movement."

Jordan, 64, an avuncular alternative-school teacher, and Pechthalt, a funny, mustachioed social studies teacher, met 20 years ago. They were introduced by a mutual friend, UCLA professor Robert Brenner, a classmate of Jordan's at Beverly Hills High School.

A trumpet player in his youth, Jordan became radicalized during the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley, where he was a student. He left graduate school to teach in the Oakland public schools. He quit to drive a truck and later became an organizer in Los Angeles for Teamsters for a Democratic Union. By 1980, Jordan had returned to teaching. He eventually took a job at Mid-City Alternative School and stayed close to Brenner.

"We both developed the same sort of emphasis, a first principle that the activity and organizing of the membership of a union, rather than the leadership, is the key to power," Brenner said.

Pechthalt, 53, took a class from Brenner at UCLA during the 1980s on social theory and comparative history. Pechthalt was the son of radicals. His father, a Colombian immigrant, was a chicken farmer turned politician who briefly moved the family back to South America when Pechthalt was a child. His mother, a bookkeeper, actively opposed the Vietnam War.

Brenner had a lasting impact on Pechthalt. The professor argues that the world economy and global capitalism are in decline, a view that Jordan and Pechthalt say they share.

"Joel and I developed a critique of the narrow trade union perspective," Pechthalt said. "With the tightening of the economic pie, the only way to challenge that was to build a broad-based social movement for public education."

During UTLA's last strike, a nine-day walkout in 1989, Pechthalt and Jordan organized a rally in Exposition Park with Villaraigosa's help. In 1992, Pechthalt led a one-hour wildcat strike at Manual Arts High School, which included 30 teachers and 1,500 students, to protest cuts. The district tried to discipline Pechthalt; Villaraigosa guided his successful grievance.

About the same time, Pechthalt and Jordan began publishing A Second Opinion, a newsletter that frequently criticized UTLA. Among their contributors were other dissidents, including Julie Washington, now a vice president, and David Goldberg, now union treasurer.

"We need to once more begin transforming the image of teachers as friendly Caspar Milquetoast do-gooders into a unified, mobilized and proud bunch of unionists," Pechthalt and Jordan wrote in August 2004.

By then, Jordan was running a campaign to take over the board of directors and three officer positions with a slate of dissidents called United Action. The slate did not field a presidential candidate, and did not think Duffy, the only challenger to incumbent John Perez, stood a chance.

But Duffy, an unsinkable sort who favors fine suits and two-tone shoes, was undeterred. The son of a Brooklyn insurance executive, he was slow to learn to read and "was a tremendous disappointment to my parents," he said. In his 20s, Duffy moved to Philadelphia, where he lived in a commune and started a day-care center.

After moving to Los Angeles, Duffy earned his teaching credential. He taught social studies at Drew Middle School near Watts and special education at Franklin High in Highland Park. He frequently ran afoul of principals but sharpened his fighting skills in grievances.

Though campaigning for the union presidency on his own, Duffy found he agreed with Pechthalt and Jordan on the need for militancy; United Action endorsed Duffy, and vice versa.

Their timing was good. In February 2005, the frustrated membership elected the entire slate, including Duffy.

The new leaders claimed some victories for their new approach. They persuaded teachers to wear red shirts on Tuesdays as a sign of union solidarity. They pushed the district to reduce some of the mandatory assessments of students that teachers complain take class time. They also supported other unions. Duffy and Pechthalt were arrested during a demonstration in favor of airport hotel workers last September.

The leaders' philosophy also led them to a deal they came to regret with Villaraigosa to support state legislation granting him more influence over the school district.

They opposed his initial bid for a full takeover, instead pressing him behind the scenes to pursue a partnership with the union. The compromise legislation, AB 1381, was negotiated behind closed doors in Sacramento. That secrecy, along with provisions granting more power to the superintendent, upset some of UTLA's rank and file, and opponents gathered signatures for a referendum on the deal.

After AB 1381 became law (it has since been blocked by a judge), members voted to overturn the union's support of the agreement, leaving UTLA an official opponent of the law its own leaders negotiated.

"Many of the current officers of UTLA do not have a clue what the rank-and-file membership has to say about educational reform or raising student achievement or protecting public education and does not seem to take the time to even bother to find out," former union vice president Becki Robinson wrote to The Times after the deal.

The reversal left Villaraigosa deeply skeptical of the union's ability to deliver on any agreement, said sources close to the mayor. In school board races this spring, the mayor and the union are backing different candidates.

Union officers saw the contract fight, in part, as a chance to make amends for AB 1381 — and mobilize as they had promised.

They sponsored a tour of campuses to highlight overcrowding and held two massive rallies of teachers. They broadcast radio ads calling for smaller classes and more authority for parents. And they repeatedly threatened to strike.

"We have to destroy this district," Duffy, 62, told teachers last month at Nightingale Middle School in Northeast Los Angeles. "We have to pull it apart. We have to dismantle it. The only way to do it is with conflict."

The contract was sealed Monday, as the union began a strike authorization vote. District officials said negotiations gained momentum when Jordan personally joined the talks.

The deal produced a 6% raise — less than the 9% the union had previously demanded but more than some school board members thought was prudent. Union leaders, for their part, emphasized their gains on non-salary issues that were often the subject of articles in the old dissident newsletter.

The contract includes both reductions in and caps on class sizes (which will average about one or two fewer students per class). It gives new protection to teachers active in UTLA; anyone transferred for their union activities can appeal to a mediator.

Said their ally Washington, who was on the negotiating committee: "This is just a beginning."

▲smf notes: I of course would never resort to rhetorical excess! Because AJ Duffy’s quote: "We have to pull it apart. We have to dismantle it. The only way to do it is with conflict." seems to feed directly into the Runner/Riordan/Smyth “break up the district” agenda I asked UTLA leadership to clarify it – or at least put it into a current context. Josh Pechthalt got back to me saying that he spoke to Duffy “and he said the quote was not correct. He was referring to the district bureaucracy; not the district itself.”

LAUSD'S PAYROLL FOULED UP: Questions raised on choice of new system, contractor
by Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer | LA Daily News

Feb. 15, 2006 - Roiled by glitches in a new $95 million computerized payroll system that have left thousands of employees without checks, Los Angeles school officials said Wednesday that they will review the contracting process that led to the deal and might consider taking legal action against the suppliers.

Problems with the system have left more than 10,000 employees without paychecks for two weeks, and Los Angeles Unified School District officials expect similar problems next month.

And questions have been raised on the district's choice of SAP Public Services for the system despite a history of problems at other schools, a more-expensive software bid and a potential political connection to the LAUSD.

The lobbying firm Rose & Kindel represents SAP and also has a contract with the district for consulting and lobbying in Sacramento. It lobbied in 2005 for state legislation that allowed the district to use a less-stringent bidding process for major technology purchases.

"One of the things we always do when a system is rolled out is ... look for lessons learned. We have to go back and look at the history of procurement, certainly. ... We'll do our due diligence to see if it was a good deal," said Superintendent David Brewer III.

District officials have defended the contract award and say instead that the suppliers may have failed to adequately prepare for implementation.

But some also are questioning the timing of legislation that allowed the LAUSD to award the contract to SAP.


In October 2005, Rose & Kindel lobbied for legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine on behalf of the district to provide more flexibility in selecting technology providers.

SAP officials have said Rose & Kindel didn't lobby for the legislation on behalf of SAP - and has not lobbied for SAP on anything before LAUSD officials because of the potential conflict.

And LAUSD officials have said that because Rose & Kindel doesn't lobby district officials on behalf of clients, there was no conflict between the firm's lobbying for the district on the bill and having a Sacramento tie to SAP.

The bill was signed into law Oct. 4, 2005. Later that day, SAP announced its contract with the LAUSD.

"It certainly is strange in the sense that the reason for the legislation was we can't go with the lowest bid because it wouldn't perform as well as the highest bid," said Bob Stern, director of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles. "And now it turns out the highest bid didn't perform well at all."

Levine did not return a call for comment.

So far, officials are aware of 10,000 LAUSD employees - out of more than 100,000 - who have been affected by the glitches, said Chuck Burbridge, district chief financial officer.

Bus driver Benny Bernal, an 18-year LAUSD veteran and incoming vice president of Service Employees International Union Local 99, said his check was hundreds of dollars short.

Bernal said other employees have told him the glitches have led to their accounts being overdrawn, rent checks delayed and mortgage payments missed.

"I found this system was used in other states and has failed," Bernal said. "Obviously they were aware of it, and I want an answer as to who made the final decision and what are we going to do to hold these people accountable," he said.


The district has set up a service center for employees who have questions or need emergency funds. Officials are also contacting employees' banks and expect district funds to pay any fees the glitches caused employees to incur, including overdraft and insufficient-fund charges.

While district officials said they don't yet have an estimate of how much it will cost, Bernal said redoing employees' timecards in the transportation department takes three hours per driver and totals about $75,000 a day.

Touted as a key to cutting inefficiencies, fraud and bureaucracy, the new payroll system is set to be completely operational by 2008.

But it has been riddled with problems at other educational institutions. Last year, the faculty union sued the nine Los Angeles community colleges over delays and incorrect paychecks. College officials blamed their new SAP system.

LAUSD school board member David Tokofsky said the board will consider whether to sue SAP and Deloitte Consulting, the company hired to implement the system.

"When there's a crash, often the responsibility is on all the parties, and we've heard a lot about L.A. Unified's fault," he said.

"But what we haven't seen in explicit terms yet is SAP and Deloitte's responsibilities, contractually and institutionally."

Deloitte Consulting received an 18-month, $55 million contract - the largest chunk in the new system's $95 million contract - because of the firm's familiarity with SAP implementation, Tokofsky said.

SAP Public Services did not return a call. Deloitte spokeswoman Christine Brodeur said in a written statement that Deloitte will continue to work with the district on the issue.


School board candidate Tamar Galatzan, who's challenging incumbent Jon Lauritzen, said in a letter to Lauritzen on Tuesday that the system has had problems around the country, including San Bernardino City Unified and Minneapolis public schools.

She called on the school board to ask the district's inspector general to audit the contracts awarded for the new system.

"Los Angeles Unified has a history of undertaking expensive projects only to abandon them, squandering taxpayer dollars," she said.

Burbridge said the LAUSD conducted a lengthy evaluation process in which more than 100 people reviewed the software and consultants before choosing SAP.

"We thought we were aware of the challenges, and we were hopeful we'd have a better experience than these other school districts," Burbridge said.

"However, at the end of the day, there are only so many payroll systems that are large enough to accommodate 100,000 employees, and sometimes you have to hold your nose and say yes, there are challenges with this. We thought we chose the best one."

GENDER MATTERS: Educators battle over single-sex schools.
By Amy Standen | Edutopia Magazine

Feb 7, 2007 - At the 49ers Academy, in East Palo Alto, California, it was the students who gave the thumbs down to going coed.

"They say they feel more comfortable in sex-segregated classrooms," says Heather Turoczi, the school's program director. "The boys don't feel like they need to put on a big show for the girls, and the girls feel like they can strive academically without having to dumb down their abilities."

The 49ers Academy is somewhat of a rarity, both in California and nationwide: a single-sex public school. Incorporated in 1996, the school caters primarily to low-income students, many who could be classified as high risk. The goal, says the school's Web site, "is to keep these kids in school." Middle school boys and girls here share a campus. Clad in their 49ers uniforms of white T-shirts and khaki pants, they squeeze in a few minutes of sarcasm and flirting as they cross paths on the quad but spend most of the day in single-sex classrooms, sharing the school's facilities on a staggered schedule.

Fifty-one completely single-sex public schools exist in America, and nearly five times as many offer some single-sex classrooms, according to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education. Those numbers may soon rise. In November, the U.S. Department of Education delivered guidelines that will, in effect, show how school districts can offer single-sex classrooms without violating Title IX, the landmark 1972 federal legislation that mandated gender equality in all aspects of government-funded education. Supporters of single-sex education welcome the new rules, but many others are wary of the change. In education as well as anywhere else, they argue, separate is not equal, and single-sex schools can undermine years of progress toward gender equality. Under the new legislation, however, it's less a matter of if than of how: How far must schools go to ensure that boys' and girls' educations mirror each other exactly? How do you preserve fairness in segregation?

The 49ers Academy dates to an older experiment. In 1997, then California governor Pete Wilson introduced legislation to create 12 single-sex academies in six districts. The state would grant $500,000 to each district to help fund the schools, with the requirement that the money be divided equally between boys and girls. The academies would operate as magnet schools within the districts, alternatives to -- but not replacements for -- coed programs.

[article continues - see link below]

▲ In the formation and design of Small School Learning Communities on our large campuses - high school but really mostly middle school - maybe we should consider twin single gender schools in the mix? – smf

Hot Link:

Gender Matters article continues on 4LAKidsNews blog.

By Sara Bernard | from the Edutopia Spriral Notebook (a blog)

February 13, 2007 - The Education Sector, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, DC, recently released a report titled “On the Clock: Rethinking the Way Schools Use Time.” The report explores the benefits of increased instructional time during the school day but warns that the quality of teaching is as important as the quantity, and makes specific recommendations for policy makers on how to use school time more effectively. Though many schools have begun lengthening the school day, some argue that more time in school — regardless of how it’s used — puts too great a demand on students and teachers, requires too significant an increase in funding, and may not even make much of a difference in student achievement.

▲ from the executive summary of the report:

“The logic of time reform is simple—more time in school should result in more learning and better student performance. But this seemingly straightforward calculation is more complex than it appears. Research reveals a complicated relationship between time and learning and suggests that improving the quality of instructional time is at least as important as increasing the quantity of time in school. It also suggests that the addition of high-quality teaching time is of particular benefit to certain groups of students, such as low-income students and others who have little opportunity for learning outside of school.

“What’s more, the politics and cost of extending time make the reform a tough sell. Additional days and hours are expensive, and changing the school schedule affects not only students and teachers, but parents, employers and a wide range of industries that are dependent on the traditional school day and year. It is critical that policymakers understand the educational and political complexities of time reform before they attempt to extend the school year or take up other time-reform initiatives.”

The full report: “On the Clock: Rethinking the Way Schools Use Time.”

► BILL TO REQUIRE HPV VACCINE STIRS CONCERN: Some believe making California schoolgirls get inoculated against the sexually transmitted virus would violate parental rights.

By Adrian G. Uribarri, LA Times Staff Writer

February 12, 2007 - George Warren didn't mind getting his 9-year-old daughter vaccinated against chickenpox. He didn't object to any of the 10 or so inoculations that California requires.

But a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer and genital warts? For a preteen girl?

"She's not gonna need it," said Warren, a 30-year-old land surveyor from Rescue, Calif., about 28 miles from Sacramento. "I'm a good parent. I tell her what's right and wrong."

A bill in the state Legislature would require such shots for girls entering the sixth grade. And parents such as Warren are decrying what they consider an incursion on parental rights.

"I'm insulted by them trying to tell me what's right for my children," he said.

Written primarily by Assemblywoman Sally Lieber (D-Mountain View), the bill mandating vaccinations against the human papilloma virus, a sexually transmitted disease that causes 70% of cervical cancers, is still in its infancy.

Its prospects are uncertain, but one thing already is clear: This is a controversial issue.

Texas' Republican governor, Rick Perry, angered social conservatives in his party recently when he mandated HPV vaccines for girls by executive order. Parents there can opt out of the requirement for reasons of conscience — as they would be able to do in California.

Since the vaccine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year, states have been wrestling with the questions it raises. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 26 have initiated legislation.

Parents or their advocates have raised a chorus of objections, saying that mandating the vaccine may encourage promiscuity and that it is too early to tell whether the vaccine is safe, particularly for young girls.

Last month, Maryland's Democratic state Sen. Delores Kelley withdrew her vaccination bill, saying she was responding to parents and teachers worried about excessive inoculation requirements.

In California, the bill is still in a legislative committee. Lieber, who recently drew criticism for introducing an anti-spanking bill, has since dropped her sponsorship. She cited a potential conflict of interest because her husband's family trust includes about $14,000 of stock in Merck and Co., the maker of Gardasil, the only available HPV vaccine.

Edward Hernandez (D-Baldwin Park), a freshman assemblyman who sits with Lieber on the Health Committee, agreed to carry the bill.

"What brought me to the table is the fact that I have a 16-year-old daughter," he said. "I'm looking at it from the public health standpoint of reducing cancer."

At least 50% of sexually active people will get HPV at some time in their lives, according to federal statistics.

Among women with HPV, the vast majority do not develop cervical cancer. But the American Cancer Society estimates that this year, about 11,150 women will be diagnosed as having HPV and 3,670 women will die from the disease. As a result, many public health experts endorse vaccinating girls before they become sexually active.

Scott Folsom, president of the Los Angeles 10th District Parent-Teacher-Student Assn., said mandating the vaccine makes it more likely to be widely used.

"PTA was a great advocate for the polio vaccine in the '50s," said Folsom, who has encouraged his own 16-year-old daughter to get the HPV shot. "This is another opportunity to perhaps make that difference."

But opponents say HPV is not like polio, or most other diseases prevented by vaccines. State Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster) said HPV is the result of lifestyle decisions, not contagion.

"Is there a more productive way for us to spend the money that may help someone who's in a health situation that has nothing to do with their personal choices?" he asked. "Where do you want to focus your resources?"

The vaccine is relatively expensive. It requires three doses within about six months, each dose costing about $120. It is covered by some major insurers and, in the case of women between the ages of 19 and 26, Medi-Cal will pick up the tab. Girls as young as 9 can qualify for free doses under the federal Vaccines for Children program.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not taken a public stand on the bill, which could change before reaching his desk, but his proposed budget for the 2007-08 fiscal year includes $11.3 million for HPV vaccines.

The California Department of Health Services has already distributed 60,000 doses of the vaccine to healthcare providers, and it is in the process of providing 45,000 more this month.

The Los Angeles Unified School District already offers the vaccine at its clinics. Female students are eligible to receive Gardasil with parental consent.

Ron Prentice, director of the California Family Council, said he does not object to having the vaccine on the market. But he wants a bill that would grant parents the greatest possible latitude for exemptions.

"Am I concerned that people may suffer from cervical cancer? The answer is yes," he said. "But the ultimate decision should remain with the parents, not the state."

Re "Proposal to require HPV vaccine stirs concerns,"

• I am amazed that George Warren won't vaccinate his preteen daughter for the human papilloma virus, the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer. He says she doesn't need it because he is a good parent and tells her what is right and wrong. Is he psychic? He somehow knows his daughter will never be raped? She'll never have a husband who lies about his history or cheats on her? For all other parents who do not have such psychic abilities, please vaccinate your daughters and possibly save their lives.

Long Beach

• Texas Gov. Rick Perry has bypassed the legislative process and signed an order stating that girls ages 11 and 12 are to receive the HPV vaccine beginning in 2008. This order infringes on the rights of parents to make decisions for their children. As parents, we must guard our children carefully and stand up when anything threatens our autonomy as a family. We must let those who govern over us know that we will not be easily led to lose our freedom to parent as God directs us, and the freedom to choose and reject those who govern us.

Detroit, Texas

smf 2¢: Rick Perry, a conservative Republican, was George W. Bush’s chosen successor as Texas Governor. His wife is a nurse and served on the 50th anniversary celebration of the Salk Vaccine Trials – the program that set up the universal vaccination of all US schoolchildren and the elimination of polio. Their daughter attended public schools. The fluoride in the water did not lead to the triumph of godless communism.

From LA Times Staff Reports

February 14, 2007 - The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday postponed a vote on a new discipline policy at the request of the teachers union.

United Teachers Los Angeles President A.J. Duffy told the board that he would like to "go back with my discipline committee and make sure all the Ts are crossed and I's are dotted." Duffy stressed, however, that he had no intention of changing the final document.

The board is expected to consider the policy again in two weeks. It would give the Los Angeles Unified School District a guiding document for dealing with student misbehavior.

•smf’s 2¢ So Duffy and UTLA are checking with UTLA’s Discipline Committee for T crossing and I dotting on a policy years in the making – but even if they find a T dotted or an I crossed there is no intention of changing the document? Am I missing something here?

THE FABULOUS $50,000-A-YEAR EDUCATION: College fees skyrocket/poor kids priced out as campuses pursue talented students and attractive facilities

• Thursday February 22: TALKING ABOUT RACE

Community Advocates, The National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, and 89.3 KPCC-FM, Southern California Public Radio Present A Critical Issues Seminar:

A nationally broadcast forum with three outstanding and controversial advocates--to better understand America’s perennial issue

Join an array of community leaders in discussing the role of racial and ethnic identity in our lives---from individual conversations to the media and its news coverage to policy formation by our leaders. Where are we and where are we going?

• Gustavo Arellano | Commentator, OC Weekly Syndicated Columnist of “Ask A Mexican”
• Sandra Tsing Loh | Writer/Performer, Novelist, NPR Commentator, Contributing Editor, The Atlantic Monthly
• Joe R. Hicks | Vice-President, Community Advocates, Radio Host, KFI-AM
• Larry Mantle | Moderator Award winning host of 89.3 KPCC-FM’s AirTalk

Thursday February 22 7 P.M. – 8:30 P.M.
Center for the Preservation of Democracy
111 North Central Avenue
Los Angeles 90012
(Across the Plaza from the Japanese American National Museum)
Wine and Cheese Reception 6:00 PM
Dessert Reception Following Program
RSVP (213) 623.6003 or by email to
Made Possible by Generous Grants from the Righteous Persons Foundation and the John Randolph and Dora Haynes Foundation.


They were L.A. Parents who "just said no" to the crazy-making miseries of getting into magnet schools, charter schools and beyond


From Pasadena to the Eastside to the Valley to the Westside they were the parents who bucked conventional wisdom by choosing their (drum roll, please). . .

(Really?!? You’re kidding?!? What the--?!?)

MARTINIS AND MAGNETS (an LA Weekly Best Event) presents:


Plus special bonus topic. . .
Q: Who’s afraid of middle school?
A: Apparently everybody!

Join your fellow Los Angeles "points-impaired" parents for an intimate brunch
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sunday, February 25
A cool kids’ store, yoga studio and music/art class mecca
6095 Pico (on north side between Crescent Heights and La Cienega)
Cool Baby Phone: (323) 935-3084

Free: We’ll provide (non-Cooks!) champagne and OJ
Please bring one potluck dish (because it’s the neighborly thing to do)
Childcare included, but please RSVP

• Tuesday Feb 20, 2007
6:00 p.m.
Main Street Elementary School
129 East 53rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90011

• Tuesday Feb 20, 2007
Join us as we kick off the site selection process for this new project.
6:30 p.m.
MacArthur Park Primary Center
2300 W. 7th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90057

• Wednesday Feb 21, 2007
Please join us to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new community school!
Ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m.
East Los Angeles New High School #1
1200 Plaza Del Sol
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Wednesday Feb 21, 2007
CENTRAL REGION HIGH SCHOOL #16: Schematic Design Meeting
At this meeting we will:
* Present schematic design drawings
* Receive community input on the design of the project
6:00 p.m.
49th Street Elementary School - Auditorium
750 East 49th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90011

• Thursday Feb 22, 2007
Please join us to celebrate the completion of your new classroom building!
Ceremony will begin at 9:00 a.m.
Huntington Drive Elementary School
4435 N. Huntington Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90032

• Thursday Feb 22, 2007
The purpose of this meeting is to inform and obtain input from the community on the types of issues to be considered in a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR). This report evaluates the potential impacts that this project may have on the surrounding environment.
Your comments and concerns are very important. Please join us!
6:30 p.m.
Rosemont Avenue Elementary School
421 N. Rosemont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

• Thursday Feb 22, 2007
VALLEY REGION SPAN K-8 #2: Recommended Preferred Site Meeting
Join us to discuss the recommended preferred site and the next steps in the construction of the Valley Region Span K-8 #2.
6:30 p.m.
Germain Elementary School
20730 Germain St.
Chatsworth, CA 91311

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213.633.7493
Phone: 213.633.7616


What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6387 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6385 • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6383

...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at • 213.978.0600
• Call or e-mail Governor Schwarzenegger: 213-897-0322 e-mail:
• Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
• Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
• Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
• Register.
• Vote.

Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?

Scott Folsom is a parent and parent leader in LAUSD. He is President of Los Angeles 10th District PTSA and represents PTA as Vice-chair the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. He serves on various school district advisory and policy committees and is a PTA officer and/or governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is also the elected Youth & Education boardmember on the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council.
• In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
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